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Sit in two chairs at once. What global brands consciously refuse to sever ties with Russia completely

Sit in two chairs at once. What global brands consciously refuse to sever ties with Russia completely

Markiian Oliiarnyk
Black list
  • Russia launched a military attack against Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
  • Despite Russian officials denying civilian bombing, the occupiers have continued to commit cruel crimes against humanity since the start of hostilities. 
  • Global brands begun to leave the Russian market en masse, but not all of them.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on the morning of February 24, 2022. The aggressor did not directly declare the war, but instead cowardly called it a military operation. The Russian occupiers insidiously did not give the time to Ukrainian authorities to evacuate civilians. Instead, the enemy brazenly continues to claim that it does not commit crimes against civilians, but rather protects them from nationalists. But the world is not to be fooled. All civilized politicians and celebrities are actively expressing their support for Ukraine. World brands began refusing to do business with Russia. However, not all of them.

Zaborona has blacklisted companies that that did not leave the Russian market immediately, but waited a long time for public reaction. Moreover, most of them claimed that they planned to leave Russia, but did not specify terms, conditions, plans etc. Conventionally, we called it the Coca-Cola’s Black List, because it was the first global brand to express its official position.

The list is constantly updated.

The list of companies that continue to operate in Russia

It is worth noting that there are many reasons why so many international companies have decided to commit a mass exodus from Russia:

  • sanctions provided for blocking the operational work of banks and, accordingly, cards;
  • threat of complete disconnection from SWIFT;
  • troubles with logistics due to Europe’s closure of airspace for Russian aircraft;
  • herd instinct;
  • Ukrainian origin;
  • a sense of justice;
  • hate for war and terrorism;
  • love and support for Ukraine.

The official operating activity of an international company in any country means the payment of all relevant taxes. And this in turn means that the money of companies paid in taxes is distributed by governments for various state sectors, including weapons (in the case of Russia — for sure). Therefore, those global brands that decided to continue their operations in a country that has invaded another independent state have to realize that people’s blood is on their hands as well.

If you are deliberately financing terrorism, you have to bear all the responsibility. So, let’s move on to the list.

Coca-Cola — the first company that officially declare that they are not going to stop doing business in Russia.

“All of Coca-Cola’s operational, production and logistics facilities in Russia continue to operate. We are fully responsible to our partners, society and thousands of our employees in Russia. Our unconditional priority is the safety of our employees,” claimed in the company’s press-release to Russians.

On March 8, the 13th day of the war, after considering all the reputational risks and consequences that mass boycotts of Coca-Cola products could lead to, the company decided to suspend its business in Russia.

“The Coca-Cola Company announced today that it is suspending its business in Russia. Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve,” said in the statement.

However, it is not specified what measures will be taken to suspend the business. The Coca-Cola Company has as many as 10 facilities for the production of soft drinks in Russia.

On March 30, it became known that the German Ritter Sport will not leave the Russian market: it accounts for 7% of the company’s turnover.

Nestlé — a large Swiss company, which has three factories in Ukraine/ After the beginning of Russian invasion, they announced that temporarily shutting down Ukrainian facilities due to the danger to workers. Instead, they do not want to sever ties with the enemy.

“Our factories and offices in Russia continue to operate. Our goal is to provide consumers with high quality food and beverages in all regions where we are present. We continue to provide a wide range of food products on the market,” said the company representatives to Russian media.

On March 9, the company’s spokesperson told Reuters that Nestle was suspending all capital investments in Russia. On March 11, one of the largest food-producing companies announced restrictions on trade with the aggressor, but not completely.

It was reported that Nestle has stopped exporting and importing non-essential food items, like coffee (eg Nespresso) and water (eg S. Pellegrino). That is, all other Nestle products (baby food, confectionery, breakfast cereals, etc.) will continue to appear on the shelves of Russian stores.

On March 17, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmygal posted on Twitter that he had contacted the CEO of Nestlé about the side effect of its work in Russia. We have to point out that there is no official confirmation or comment from the company in this regard.

On March 23, Nestlé issued a new statement on its work in Russia. The company will remove several more of its brands from the Russian market, including KitKat and Nesquik, and will provide to Russians only essential food, such as infant food and medical/hospital nutrition.

“While we do not expect to make a profit in the country or pay any related taxes for the foreseeable future in Russia, any profit will be donated to humanitarian relief organizations,” said in a press release.

Danone — despite the fact that this international company has publicly condemned the Russian invasion and declared its readiness to provide any assistance to Ukrainians, one of the world’s leading food giants is deliberately refusing to leave the aggressor’s market.

“We do not plan to suspend our activities in Russia and leave the market. For now, the company’s key systems, infrastructure and logistics in Russia operate in a regular mode,” Russian propagandists reported.

On March 6, the company announced that it would stop making new investments in Russia, but stays in the Russian market.

METRO is one of the world’s largest cash and carry companies, which has a huge number of stores in Ukraine. Like other multinational giants from our blacklist, this one also refused to sever trade ties with Russia.

“METRO continues to operate in Russia. We do not plan to close our shopping centers. All METRO stores operate in regular mode. We have provided the necessary stock of goods and are setting up supply chains,” claimed in the company statement on March 3.

Auchan — another global chain of hypermarkets and supermarkets that does not want to leave Russia. Moreover, the Russian department of Auchan did not make any statements or comments on the withdrawal.

In early March, Auchan imposed restrictions for Russians on the purchase of socially important products. So the conditional Russian Ivan is unable to buy more than 10 kg of sugar, 10 bottles of sunflower oil, five packs of flour of 2 kg, three packs of salt, 10 packs of pasta, rice, buckwheat and other cereals.

Leroy Merlin is a French network of supermarkets selling building materials and furniture, that has at least 107 stores in Russia.

The company has no plans to leave the Russian market and even wants to take advantage of the fact that many competitors have stopped their cooperation with the aggressor. In a letter to partners on March 11, the management of the Russian department of Leroy Merlin stated that the company is ready for new proposals to increase supplies and expand the product range

Mars and Mondelez International — both American food companies expressed virtually the same position two weeks after Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.

The management of Mondelez International, one of the largest food corporations in the world, primarily known for the Oreo and Milka brands, has decided to reduce its activities in Russia, but not to stop production at Russian facilities. The reduction of activity means the cessation of all investments in Russia, as well as the curtailment of all advertising activities.

Mars, which owns brands such as Snickers, Twix, M&M’s, Milky Way, Whiskas, has announced similar approach:

  • cessation of all activities in social networks;
  • termination of all advertising activities;
  • curtailment of all investments in the Russian market.

That is, the American confectionery giants are not currently considering the option of a full exodus from Russia.

Pirelli — unlike its concurrents, an Italian tire manufacturer does not want to leave Russia.

“Pirelli is constantly monitoring the development and consequences of the situation [in Ukraine] with the help of a specially created crisis committee. At the moment, we have no plans to stop production at any of our facilities [in Russia],” ANSA reported.

Probably, in the near future, they will have to make a choice between Russia and the support of motorsport fans. The fact is that Pirelli is one of the members of the F1 sponsorship team. Formula 1 has already condemned the war and terminated the contract with the Russian GP, which was held in Sochi. What is more, the Haas F1 team, the main sponsor of which was the Russian company Uralkali, refused to cooperate with them and said goodbye to the Russian pilot Nikita Mazepin.

On March 17, 2022, the company published a press release entitled ‘The Board of Directors approves the results to 31 December 2021’, the last two lines indicate the issues of work in the aggressor country.

“Investments halted in Russia, excluding those linked to security. The activities of the factories will be progressively limited to finance salaries and services for employees”, the document claims.

Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, not only stays in the Russian market, but is also suspected of helping the Putin regime to fight against cyberattacks on government and propaganda resources.

According to Daily Mail, this was even reported by the Chinese media, but later all such messages were deleted. It was noted that Huawei intends to use its research centers in Russia (there are five of them) to train 50,000 technical experts to protect Russian Internet network in the face of cyber threats.

Obviously, Huawei denies all the accusations, but few believe the claims of Chinese monopolists. In particular, on March 7, one of the best footballers of the XXI century, the forward of Bayern Munich Robert Lewandowski terminated a multimillion-dollar sponsorship contract with Huawei amid reports of the Chinese giant’s cooperation with Russia.

Tetra Pak — a Swedish-Swiss company, the largest manufacturer of food packaging in Russia. A striking example of a company that tries to sit on two chairs at once.

Initially, the management of Tetra Pak was keeping silent about the war and only on March 12 released a statement condemning Russia’s actions. It was said that company are going to refuse to invest in Russian economy and restrict on its activity in the aggressor state to essential food products such as milk and children’s food.

However, on March 28, the Russian media reported that Tetra Pak was temporarily suspending the production of packaging for wine and beverages with a capacity of two liters (except juices). Moreover, the reason is not that Russian missiles are destroying Ukrainian cities and killing peaceful Ukrainians, but simply a lack of raw materials for packaging.

It’s unclear how wine can be considered as a socially important product for Russian children, but Kremlin propagandists noted that Tetra Pak has enough raw materials for only one month, and has not yet agreed on new supplies from China.

It is worth mentioning the work of catering services in Russia. As of March 7, the following companies continued to operate with the aggressor:

  • Yum! Brands (the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)*;
  • McDonald’s**;
  • Starbucks***;
  • Burger King****;
  • Papa John’s.

*Yum! Brands. On March 8, the company announced the suspension of investments and the development of restaurants in Russia. In fact, this means that Russian franchisees have been left without external funding, but will continue to operate at their own expense. Yum! Brands has promised to redirect all the profit, taken from Russian outlets, to humanitarian efforts.

**McDonald’s. On the same day as a direct competitor in the face of KFC, the company officially announced the temporary closure of all 850 restaurants in Russia. “McDonald’s has decided to temporarily close all our restaurants in Russia and pause all operations in the market. We understand the impact this will have on our Russian colleagues and partners,” said in the statement.

However, the company will continue to pay full salaries to its employees in Russia. And there are about 62,000 of them!

***Starbucks. Immediately after McDonald’s, the official position of one of the world’s largest coffee chains has appeared. After 13 days of war, Starbucks decided not to sponsor the murderers and announced the suspension of business in Russia.

“We condemn the unprovoked, unjust and horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia, and our hearts go out to all those affected… We continue to watch the tragic events unfold and, today, we have decided to suspend all business activity in Russia, including shipment of all Starbucks products,” said in the letter, sent by CEO Kevin Johnson.

****Burger King — Restaurant Brands International, which owns the Burger King chain, finally made a statement on Ukraine on March 10. It turns out that in Russia, the company does not own any Burger King restaurants in Russia, because the business is fully franchised and managed by a local master franchisee.

In the end, the company made a choice and announced a number of steps to sever operational ties to Russia, namely:

  • refusal of new investments in Russia and expansion of the network;
  • suspension of all the corporate support for the Russian franchisees, including at the level of operations, marketing and supply chain;
  • any profits from franchised operations will be redirected to humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees.

In addition, there were large corporations that had been keeping silent for a long time, haven’t made any statements about leaving the Russian market and had continued to work with the aggressor as if nothing was happening. These included PepsiCO, P&G and Unilever. However, after some time, weighing all the reputational risks, they declared their positions:

  • PepsiCO — partial suspension of sales of goods in Russia (this applies to soft drinks under the brands Pepsi, Sprite, Mirinda; sales of goods in the categories of baby food and dairy products will continue);
  • P&G — suspension of new investments in Russia, cessation of advertising activity and reduction of the range of goods in stores (only health, hygiene and personal care products will be left on the shelves);
  • Unilever — suspension of exports of its products to Russia, cessation of advertising activity, refusal of new investments and profits from the Russian Federation (basic foodstuffs and hygiene products manufactured at the company’s Russian enterprises will remain on the market).

Raiffeisen Bank — In early March, Reuters reported that one of the largest banks in Central and Eastern Europe, Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), was looking into leaving Russia. Subsequently, the RBI denied this information and its Russian department still continues to cooperate with the aggressor.

On March 9, they went even further. The Raiffeisen’s press-center reported that the bank has made Visa and Mastercard cards termless for Russian individuals and small businesses.

“Raiffeisen Bank’s Visa and Mastercard cards have become termless. Now individuals, entrepreneurs and owners of small and micro businesses can use them in Russia without limitation. It is not necessary to reissue the cards — the validity of current cards has been extended automatically,” the bank reports.

Deutsche Bank —  Germany’s largest bank also does not want to leave Russia completely. 

«We are often asked why we are not withdrawing completely from Russia. The answer is that this would go against our values. We have clients who cannot exit Russia overnight. And, as far as we can, we will continue to also support them, too, at this difficult time», — Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing wrote on March 10.

However, the German bank has declared its readiness to cease some types of businesses in Russia (not specified), and added that over the past few years, DB has significantly reduced its presence in the Russian market. In addition, the bank’s management assured that it would closely monitor the sanctions policy of the EU and, if necessary, they would adapt to the new approach to cooperation [or exodus from Russia].

Finally, on March 11, the management of Deutsche Bank dared to announce that the largest German financial institution is eager to leave Russia. “We are in the process of winding down our remaining business in Russia, while we help our non-Russian multinational clients in reducing their operations. There won’t be any new business in Russia,” the bank said in a statement.

Crédit Agricole — French banking group has been keeping silent about its work in Russia for a long time. And only on March 22, almost a month after the beginning of invasion, the company decided to sever all ties with the aggressor.

It is noted that one of the largest French banks has already suspended new financing of Russian companies, and in a few weeks it will completely suspend all its activities in Russia.

“The group has contacted its international corporate clients to establish the terms of the cessation of services provided locally by Crédit Agricole CIB, which will take effect in the coming weeks,” noticed in the bank statement.

Hyatt and Hilton — the largest chains of luxury hotels were silent for two weeks, waiting for what the public would say about them, Finally, they made statements about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On March 9, both companies announced that they will stop advertising campaigns in Russian market, refuse to open new hotels in Russia, but are not going to close existing ones.

They also expressed the full support and the readiness to promote the humanitarian efforts to Ukrainian refugees. “The Hilton network is ready to donate up to 1 million hotel room nights in hotels across Europe to support Ukrainian refugees fleeing horrific violence in their country,” said in the statement.

A similar offer was made by Hyatt. Both companies also promised to direct all profits from activities in Russia to humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Nonetheless, there are some hotel networks that continue to operate in Russia and do not comment on the situation in Ukraine:

  • Accor;
  • Intercontinental Hotels;
  • Marriott.

Renault — a French automotive company, that stopped production at its facilities in Russia on February 28. As it turned out, the reason was not the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the genocide of the Ukrainian people, organized by Putin, but the problems with logistics and lack of spare parts.

Renault was not going to completely refuse to sponsor Putin’s bloody regime, and on March 21, even restore production at its Moscow plant.

However, just two days later, after heavy criticism of the company on the Internet, Renault again announced the closure of its plant in Moscow.

“The Board of Directors of Renault Group met today and approved the following items: Renault Group activities in its manufacturing plant in Moscow are suspended as of today. Regarding its stake in AVTOVAZ, Renault Group is assessing the available options, taking into account the current environment, while acting responsibly towards its 45,000 employees in Russia,” the company said in an official statement.

In addition, the following companies are still fully or partially presented on the Russian market (as of March 23):

  • pharmaceutical: Pfizer, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Abbot Labs, AmerisourceBergen, Novartis;
  • tobacco: Phillip Morris, JTI;
  • banks: Citi, UniCredit Group, Société Générale, Credit Suisse;
  • automotive: Mitsubishi Motors, Hyundai, Komatsu, SKF, Kia MotorsNissan;
  • tire manufacturers: Goodyear, Nokian Tyres;
  • agriculture: Cargill, ADM;
  • trading; Trafigura, Glencore, Vitol;
  • home appliances/electrical equipment: Schneider Electric, Miele, Emerson;
  • flooring manufacturer: Mohawk Industries;
  • paper: Mondi, International Paper;
  • food: Kellogg’s, Bunge;
  • oil/energy: Saudi Aramco, Uniper;
  • chemistry: Koch Industries, BASF;
  • insurance: AXA;
  • multinational: General Electric.

Earlier, Zaborona spoke about the support expressed by the world to Ukraine in the early days of the barbaric invasion of Putin’s troops.

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